Olympia schools need leadership

March 5th, 2012 by Ken

The Olympia School District is in the process of hiring a new superintendent, a replacement for retiring Bill Lahmann. Whoever gets the job will inherit a school district with a great deal to be proud of.

The Olympia School District is one of the top school districts in the state. It’s students always have high test scores. It has outstanding teachers and parental support is beyond what most school districts receive.

Voters recently approved the district’s special levy by nearly 70 percent and also gave approval for a new bond issue to build and rebuild district facilities.

The Olympia School District is a homogeneous district. Most of the parents work for or around state government. They are highly educated with nearly 40 percent of district voters with a college degree. And, the community is 84 percent white, with less than 11 percent of district students below the poverty line.

The district is a “Goldilocks” District. Not too small and not too large. At 7600 students it’s just right. With two high schools four middle schools, eleven elementary schools and several alternative learning centers Olympia is a great school district and a plum job for any superintendent.

But, it has its problems. Problems that the former superintendent and current school board are afraid to address.

Enrollment in the district is scattered. Some areas of the district have seen significant declines in student population while other areas have seen some growth. That means that some schools are over-crowded while other schools are far below their rated capacity.

At least one elementary school has so few students that it has only a part time principal.

Rather than address those inequities the school board and the superintendent prefer to let the problem continue and ask voters for more money to build new facilities.

Shutting down schools, or realigning school boundaries is one of the hardest thing a school board can do. It’s easier just to let things slide and hope voters don’t mind paying more taxes than they need to.

The new superintendent will be faced with this problem. Let’s hope the school board hires someone with enough leadership skills to tackle the hard problems.

It’s obvious the school board needs leadership.

Posted in Government, Informational, Local Politics, The Real News

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